I’ll admit that I’ve been a bit more casual about preparing to give birth to my second daughter. At this stage of my pregnancy with Gray, I’d registered at the hospital, completely painted and decorated the nursery, and taken assorted birthing classes with my husband. I had newborn diapers stockpiled and coming out of my ears, and I’d already purchased the perfect “bringing baby home from the hospital” outfit. Or two. Or five. I had my somewhat overzealous “to go” bag filled to the brim, and I’d stashed it in the hall closet for safekeeping. I wasn’t just making progress; I was thoroughly prepared. And by “thoroughly prepared,” I mean that I could have gone into labor during any number of catastrophic, cataclysmal conditions, and had all bases covered. I could have birthed a baby while floating down the Amazon River on a driftwood raft lit only by Tiki torches, as long as I had my well-stocked, super-sized “to go” bag along for the ride.
Now ask me what I’ve done thus far for the impending birth of my second daughter… The answer is short and simple: nothing. Unless, of course, you count the fact that I’ve located my nursing bras. Which, I suppose, would be somewhat more notable had they not been holding vigil in my underwear drawer all along.
To be clear, my lackluster efforts aren’t to suggest I’m not equally excited to meet this new little bundle of joy who will be gracing us with her presence sometime before mid-November. I’m absolutely over the moon about her arrival; there’s no casual indifference about it! It’s not that I’m too exhausted, or hell-bent on procrastinating like I’m studying for a college Physics exam, or in denial that the sleepless nights are in our very near future. It’s not even that the novelty of readying for a baby has worn off. It’s that chasing after a 2-year-old has made the time go by faster than I can say, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”
I’m only a little over a month away from giving birth, which sort of snuck up on me. You know, in the beautiful and treasured way that only a wriggling, hiccupping, bladder-kicking, uterus-expanding, belly-monopolizing baby can. And I know she can technically decide to make her appearance at any time, so I suppose I ought to start buckling down!
But first, there might as well be a blog about it.
During my first pregnancy, each month that passed felt like a year. As with a watched pot that never boils, the constant countdown of a pregnancy makes it seem interminable. I waited for every milestone like it was the second coming. Every punch and jab was a much-anticipated novelty that never wore off (which is still the case, if I’m being perfectly honest), and each day brought fun new ailments that made me crack open the What To Expect When You’re Expecting guidebook. I woke up each morning thinking, “What can I do to lay the parental groundwork today?” I was energetic, mildly jittery, and perpetually restless. In other words, I was a typical, soon-to-be, first-time mom! But how does one truly get everything in order for a second child, when they are still marveling over the first? I mean, who has time to paint and prep a nursery when there are tea parties to be had? Or silly songs to sing? Or books to read about llama drama and hungry caterpillars? Or Frozen to be watched for the thousandth time (this week)? Moreover, who has time to rearrange the drawer of newborn clothes, when you can snuggle with the 2-year-old that’s right in front of you instead? I’m suddenly finding myself in the “there’s no need to rush, so why stress?” camp. Up next: Kumbaya and S’mores by the campfire. If the nursery mobile isn’t hung or the crib blankets still need to be washed, we’ll manage. Moreover, I don’t imagine the baby will be disappointed that we were a bit slow in getting our act together. It will all fall into place eventually, right?
Or so I’ve convinced myself.
Perhaps my mellow approach to baby #2 is because I’ve relaxed into my parenting. Well, as “relaxed” as a micro-managing, type A woman can be. I’d like to think that I know a little something about what to expect now, so there isn’t quite the same heightened level of pre-baby activity. There are always new things to be learned, but the curve isn’t nearly as steep. This time around, I’m not buzzing with undue impatience and apprehension. In other words, I don’t have the kind of nervous energy that might propel me to clean out the freezer for the fifth time this month, or stock up on a pantry full of toilet paper, or bake chocolate chip cookies for everyone in a ten-mile radius. (Though the latter may disappoint a neighbor or two.)
It certainly helps that we already have everything we need in our possession. And I do mean everything! Thanks to the wonderful gifts we received from our family and friends at Gray’s baby shower, we are fully equipped with every baby-related item we could possibly want. And that’s an understatement. There’s even a closet full of clothes that would make the Olsen twins jealous.
At some point soon, I’ll need to scour the attic for the newborn onesies and give them all a good laundering. I’ll locate the bibs and burping cloths, install the infant car seat, and dust off the baby bathtub. For now, I’m getting Gray transitioned into her big girl bed, so she has time to acclimate before her sister commandeers her old crib. (So far, so good on that one!) We’ve also scheduled Gray for a “Tots on Tour” of the hospital where I’ll be delivering, because we want her to be as involved as possible. We are making sure she shares in the excitement, so the transition won’t feel quite so drastic. Thankfully, Gray has no shortage of enthusiasm over meeting her sibling. She often asks me, “Is my baby sister ready to come out yet?” and rubs my tummy like she’s waiting for the genie to be liberated from the lamp. It’s incredibly endearing! I encourage her to speak to her sister as much as possible, as I’m a firm believer that bonds can form even while baby is in the womb. It’s neat to see Gray taking ownership of her new role as “big sister,” frequently declaring vows such as, “Mommy, I’m going to share my toys with my baby sister when she gets here,” and “I’m going to let her sleep with me in my big girl bed.” Of course, she’s in for a rude awakening when there’s actually a tiny, crying human in the house, but… I couldn’t be more excited that she’s excited!
A neat side benefit is that Gray has really stepped up to the plate in the independence department lately. She’s learning to rely on herself a little more, rather than expecting me to do everything for her. She puts her toys away without being asked, and every now and then she lets me know she’s going to go to play by herself. Sometimes I find her quietly flipping through books in her reading chair, or drawing pictures at her little table. She’s discovering that playtime by oneself can be fulfilling, and I’m thrilled for her. Learning to spend time alone can be cathartic and inspiring! I keep an eye on her from a distance and, of course, eavesdrop on the hilarious conversations she conducts with her stuffed animals. She likes to wax poetic about the importance of their naptime, and why they shouldn’t jump on her bed. (Score! My words really ARE sinking in!) I also recently overheard her sweetly talking to her baby doll as if it were her sister. She was dressing her in some frilly get up, and offering her milk and Cheerios. I’m not sure how patient Gray will be while she waits for the baby to get big enough for that sort of quality playtime together, but I definitely have a proud big sis on my hands!
In some ways, welcoming a new little girl is nerve-wracking. Sure, on the surface we have everything we need, but it’s not just about the material objects. A new baby brings unfamiliar challenges and distinct experiences. Of course, that’s part of the fun of having another child, and we look forward to it immensely! However, it’s tough to look beyond the example we already have running, and laughing, and gabbing (oh, the gabbing!) in front of us. It is nearly impossible to envision a daughter other than Gray, even though we can appreciate that no two children are exactly alike. I don’t expect to be able to truly wrap my head around that concept until our little one has arrived and, while she and Gray will undoubtedly have some sisterly similarities, I suspect this little girl will bring a whole new type of sass along with her. It’s strange to picture another child nursing, or smiling up at me with sleepy eyes, or snuggling in my arms, but I look forward to embracing her uniqueness; she will be her own exquisite, enchanting, breathtaking self. I don’t wonder IF I’ll love her, but rather how I’ll love her differently. And there’s a tremendous amount of beauty in that anticipation!
Suffice it to say we may not have the house arranged or the nursery organized yet, but we possess all of the love needed to welcome home our new family member. Our hearts are overflowing and ready for her arrival and, in the whole scheme of things, everything else is secondary…
Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,
Jenna von Oy
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